SO…now that we know what holiness is NOT, what is it?
First of all, Holiness is a GIFT. A free gift from God that allows us to “taste the infinite goodness and happiness of God.”
Holiness is LOVE. It is being UNITED with God. Intimacy with God. When we are in love with God, when we have a vibrant friendship with him, our love overflows into true self-giving to our neighbor. We want to help others. We reach our full perfection… our true human fulfillment. AND we are happy.
So, How do we get there?
Well, lets go back to the fact that he provides us with all we need to attain holiness. Wives and mothers often say…”If I could just be in a convent like the nuns, I’d have plenty of time to pray.” But we have to find God where we are. We find holiness in our everyday lives. Our children, our husbands, our jobs, are not obstacles to holiness, but the means to attain it. If we are called to the vocation of marriage, the vocation to being wives and mothers… If he CALLED us to this life wouldn’t he be a very strange God, a very unreasonable God, to command us to do two contradictory things? “Why would he ask us to fulfill certain responsibilities if they served only to draw us farther from him?”
He wouldn’t. Dom Hubert van Zeller, a popular spiritual director in the last century, wrote a book called Holiness for Housewives: And Other Working Women He wrote: “God does not issue two lists of professions: on the one side – those that are conducive to holiness, and on the other – those that are not. Unless the work attempts to oppose faith or morals, it may be assumed to be a work that is capable of promoting sanctity….Through it, and not spite of it, you achieve your purpose of serving God perfectly.”
Your goal is to look for God in the midst of your life. You WILL NOT FIND HIM ANYWHERE ELSE! We have to make time for prayer, but we cannot ignore our family’s needs so we can pray. Van Zeller says
“If you leave your dishes, your housekeeping, your telephone calls, your children’s everlasting questions, your ironing, and your invitations to take care of themselves while you go off and search for our Lord’s presence in prayer, you will discover nothing but…SELF.”
You have to turn your work, your struggles, your pain, into an expression of love for Christ. Everything you do, every dish you wash, every diaper you change, every spreadsheet you create, is an opportunity to grow in holiness if you do it with love. If you offer it to Jesus Christ. One Christian brother would bless himself before every task he did, in order to offer it to God.
You may have had a bad day yesterday, but today’s a new day and this present moment is the most important. You can’t give up. That is a big temptation the devil gives us. He tells us we can’t do it. But God tells us we can, and gives us all we need to do it. It takes courage, but you can do it.
Tomorrow in Part III we discuss what exactly we have to do to achieve holiness.
This series is adapted from a meditation that I gave in September 2008 for a Women’s Morning of Reflection. Quotes from the book Spiritual Progress: Becoming the Christian You Want to Be by Fr. Thomas Williams, LC are used with permission.